When Do I Need a Dental Bridge?
Like other bridges, dental bridges are used to span gaps, specifically, gaps between teeth. If you are missing one or just a few teeth together, you may benefit from a dental bridge instead of a full or partial set of dentures. Gaps between teeth should be fixed as soon as possible. If gaps go unaddressed, other healthy teeth tend to migrate towards the gap and may be in danger of weakening or falling out.
One or more missing teeth can also alter your appearance or change the proper functioning of your teeth. Both the function and aesthetic uses of your teeth may be restored with a dental bridge. Only a dentist can tell you when you need a dental bridge, so if you are missing teeth, or think you are in danger of losing teeth, consult a dentist right away.
Gaps in your teeth may occur for any number of reasons. The most common are tooth decay, gum disease, and trauma. In some cases, tooth decay or gum disease may cause your tooth to fall out spontaneously. With severe decay, the tooth may also be beyond repair, requiring one or more teeth to be extracted. Dental bridges may be used in lieu of other procedures for which you may not be a good candidate, such as:
- Dental implants
- Porcelain crowns
There are numerous types of dental bridges that may be used, depending on your specific needs. Some of the different types of bridges include:
- Traditional bridge, which consist of a pontic piece that fills the gap and two or more supporting teeth called abutments.
- Resin bonded bridges are less expensive, but require relatively healthy teeth for the abutments. Instead of crowns, the bridge is secured to metal bands on the abutment teeth that are hidden from view.
- Cantilever bridges may be used for areas that undergo less stress. The support for the bridge is all on one side of the mouth over one or more adjacent teeth.
With traditional and cantilevered bridges, the abutment teeth are first prepared to accept a crown. Each abutment tooth will need to have a portion of the healthy tooth enamel removed in order to accept the crown piece. After the abutments are prepared, an impression is made, with the gap portion filled with the pontic, or bridge part of the span. The pontic piece and the abutments are made as a single unit.
The costs associated with dental bridges are often dependent on other procedures necessary to prepare your teeth to accept the bridge. The basic cost can range from $1000 to $3000 per tooth. Other considerations that may add to the overall cost include:
- Dental fillings
- Tooth extractions
- Whether the dentist has a lab or must send the request to an outside lab
- The material used for the bridge
Thanks to modern technology, dental appliances like bridges are virtually invisible once in place. The dentist can match the color of your existing teeth and can create long lasting restorations that are both functional and aesthetically pleasing. Dental bridges do not require additional care, you simply continue to brush and floss as you normally do. Regular dental check ups will also help ensure long lasting use of your restoration.